How to Get Soft Diffused Light from Your Flash

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The biggest drawback from using a flash is that it gives hard flat light. More often than not, it causes unflattering shadows, unnatural skin tones and makes your subject look like deer caught in the headlights. Most cameras now will let you adjust the intensity of your flash by playing around with the flash exposure control or by using Flash Fill Mode. You can get softer light by doing this but it will still be flat. Here are some tips in getting better results with using your flash.

Built-In Flash Unit Diffusers
Entry-level to semi-pro DSLRs have built-in pop up flashes on them. You can purchase a soft screen diffuser for these that attaches to the top of the camera. Most just cost less than $20.00.External Flash Unit Diffusers
Diffusers are also available for external flash units. Depending on how you intend to use it or your budget, you can get something as simple as Lumiquest’s Ultrabounce which goes for about $14.95 or the Lumiquest MiniSoftbox for $19.95. For professional use, you can get Gary Fong’s Lightsphere which does a great job of evenly spreading flash light.Other Tips for External Flash
The biggest advantage of using an external flash units like the Canon 580EX or the Nikon SB800 is the ability to aim the flash independent of the camera. By angling your flash head 45 degrees vertically, you can bounce the light for the ceiling which can also give it that diffused effect. You can even aim your flash to the side and use the walls to bounce off light.
If the ceiling is too high then you can use your flash’s catchlight panel which acts as a mini reflector on your flash head.
If you rarely use your flash and can’t justify the additional expense for the items mentioned then you can make do with items found in your home. You can wrap your flash head with tissue paper or wax paper to scatter the light. You can also make a home made bounce card by attaching a calling card to the top of your external flash head with a rubber band.

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